A survival guide for Philophiles


Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Images: Getty Images

You’ll probably only be familiar with the term Philophile if you are one yourself. Don’t bother with urban dictionary – that definition is incorrect. A Philophile is a person who understands the distinct difference between Céline and Celine. The former, with an accent, represents the fashion house under the direction of designer Phoebe Philo (2007 – 2017). Without the accent refers to the house as it currently exists under Hedi Slimane. Though this difference is represented by something as simple as a slant above an e, it accounts for one of the biggest creative chasms in the industry.

Philophiles are to Phoebe Philo what Little Monsters are to Gaga or the Beyhive is to Beyoncé. Philophiles began to mobilise as such when news broke of their favourite designer’s departure from Céline, launching the (274k follower) @oldceline Insta, buying “RESPECT THE É” tees and skyrocketing the value of secondhand Céline clothing. Today, Philophiles across the globe yearn for a new Céline or really, Philo’s return to the fashion design world. Until that happens, there are a group of designers taking significant steps to fulfil the various needs Philo managed to meet all at once.


Because Lee worked under Philo at Céline, there was great excitement when it was announced that he was taking over Bottega Veneta. Would BV be the new Céline? Lee’s austere runway debut raised doubts, which have been all but wiped out by the refined vision of his campaigns, his sophomore runway collection this season and brilliant sales. BV is now a go-to for updated closet staples like minimal dresses and trench coats. The accessories, bold woven leather bags and Lee’s now signature chained net pumps (sold out just about everywhere) are quickly becoming as covetable at Philo’s iconic Céline trapeze bag.


Every Philophile will tell you that one of the main reasons they love Philo is because of the way she understood the modern woman’s lifestyle and designed chic, forgiving clothes to enhance it. Philo has three children. Victoria Beckham has four. Many a Philophile has climbed the corporate ladder or runs her own business, also making time to pick up the kids from school and maybe head out for drinks with the girls a little later. No doubt she’d feel appreciated by Victoria Beckham’s sense of elevated, feminine practicality.


This time last decade, minimalism was the name of the fashion game. Its instigator and chief creative drive was none other than Philo. Though the zeitgeist has changed, it’s almost impossible not to be seduced by the purist vision of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen at The Row. Their collections are timeless in their androgyny and beautiful in their simplicity – all painstaking considered to produce exquisite results. The Row, like Céline, substitutes the importance of hype with an emphasis on the woman wearing the clothes.


Philo’s Céline was pragmatic, make no mistake, but it had its bolder moments too. She played with colour and form to create clothing fit for a creative intellectual – the same sort of person who appreciates what Jonathan Anderson is doing at Loewe. His collections interpret craft from a modern perspective, creating beautiful style with timely substance. If Philo still designed today, her creative output would almost certainly be built on those same values.

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